Yesterday, I told you about our experience talking with Stefan while I was in Berlin. As Charles and I continued walking, we decided to get out of the cold and get something warm to drink in a little shop. There we met Saleem (or thats close to his name but I don’t know how to spell it). Saleem is from Turkey and works in his good friends Doner Kebab shop (trust me, Doner Kebabs – a turkish like Gryos – are really good here in Germany. I have one at least once a week or more).
We talked about where in Turkey Saleem was from and he asked us where we were from. We told him we lived in Europe but that I was from North Carolina before and that Charles was from Texas. That’s when things got interesting and it went a little bit like this:
Saleem: Texas? Like where George Bush is from?
Saleem: Oh, if you were George Bush I’d close the blinds, grab my knife and slit your throat and serve your flesh as Doner Kebabs but your meat wouldn’t even be good enough to serve.
While we were all laughing about what he just said, part of me was really wondering how serious he was about this. I quickly explained that Charles was not George Bush.
Saleem: Good. George Bush is a war lover. War is very bad. People dying and why? Afganistan. Why? Palistinian children – 3 or 4 years old dying. Why? War is very bad.
We agreed that war was bad and we continued our conversation about how many kids we all had, how long we’d been married, etc. which eventually led to this point….
Us: Are you a Muslim?
Saleem: Yes but not very strict.
Us: Do you pray five times a day?
Saleem: No. I try when I can but mostly I can’t.
Us: Do you go to the Mosque on Fridays?
Saleem: I have to work most Fridays but when I’m off, I try and go.
Us: Do you teach your son about Islam? (He has a 4 year old son – probably why hearing Palistinian children that age were dying hit him so hard)
Saleem: No. He is too young. He wouldn’t understand right now so its best we don’t teach him just yet.
Us: Are there other Turkish kids in his kindergarten class?
Saleem: There are only 3 Turkish kids so if all the <German> kids are eating pork (forbidden for Muslims to eat by the Koran) and we tell him he can’t eat it, then he wouldn’t understand and would cry and wonder why he is different. So we will tell him later. I’m a good father.
Us: So how old do you think he needs to be?
Saleem: 12 or 13 years old or so. (Remember, in our earlier conversation with Stefan that he thought kids as young as 1st grade are capable of choosing which religion class they want to take and that parents shouldn’t decide that for the kids)
We continued our conversation eventually we felt it was time for us to move on.
Us: We believe in prayer. May we pray for you?
Saleem: (totally surprised and shocked) You want to pray for me?
Us: Yes. We’d really like to pray for you. Is there something we can pray for you about?
Saleem: I don’t know. Maybe for my family. Good health. Yes. That’s all. So you are going to go to the church and pray for me now? (There was a church – the oldest in Berlin – just across the street).
Us: We believe that God is in our hearts so we can pray anywhere including right here.
Saleem: No. You can’t pray for me here. There’s alcohol served here and this place is not clean…… <he rattled on several more things but I couldn’t keep up with his German – it was obvious he didn’t want us praying for him there>
Us: OK. We won’t pray for you here but we will pray for you.
We thanked him for our time with him and then made our way out on to the street. We went one block down and took the time to pray for Saleem. We continue to pray for him now too.
I wanted to share with you just two of several conversations we had that day. We also stopped and talked with a computer shop owner who was wanting to move to Florida and get away from the cold of Berlin and also with a girl who was collecting money for an organization that helped homeless boys in Berlin by feeding them, clothing them and giving them job training.
From these conversations we could see that people were yearning for spiritual things and they felt a need for justice in this world but didn’t know how it would be obtained. Berlin is waiting to hear/see the Gospel. Europe is waiting to hear/see the Gospel. Want to be a part of that? Contact us.